But if the night of September fourth taught me anything, it taught me the world has a way of grabbing you by the throat when you least expect it. I was cruising along as smooth as silk until the Ferrymen entered the picture, and my life erupted in fire and blood. Now life and I never would, never could, be the way we were before the explosion. But if Hell’s Boatmen had hoped to get rid of me, their plan had backfired.
Not that the memory of that night didn’t have the power to rock me. Now that my memory was back, I woke up in a sweat more often than not, heart pounding like a kettle drum. The faces of Evander Cuey and Sammy Michaels never left me. I could still picture the mutilated corpse of my informant. I was a smidge less cocky and a lot more aware of the price to be paid, and the chill of my close brush with death stuck with me like a shadow. Everybody says experience is the best teacher, but nobody tells you how ruthless she can be. Take it from me, an up-close-and-personal run-in with pure evil will leave you in a world of hurt.
Unfortunately for the black hats, physical and emotional wounds weren’t the only souvenirs I had taken away from our last skirmish. That explosion in the warehouse district ignited a short, hot fuse in my gut. I was more determined than ever to do whatever I could to bring the Ferrymen down. All the way.
Was I afraid? Am I a moron? Of course, I was afraid. The thought of a rematch turned my knees to tofu. And there was my family to consider. Threats against my own life were daunting enough, but would I be able to live with myself if the Ferrymen came after one or, God forbid, all of my family members because of me? I wouldn’t dodge the question. Denial wasn’t an option. Either I went to war with my eyes wide open, counting the possible cost beforehand, or I didn’t go at all.
Bottom line, I wasn’t sure I could survive a strike against my family mentally intact. But after hours of agonized soul-searching, I reached an iron-clad conclusion. I couldn’t let anything stop me, not while Murder, Incorporated was still running rampant.
Knowing my family would agree took the edge off my guilt. Some, anyway. Oh, the entire clan would argue both themselves and me blue in the face when they found out I was headed back into the fray. But they would come around in the end, because Mom and Dad were the ones who raised my brothers and me to believe the world can only work the way it’s supposed to if we all watch out for one another.
When Dad was first elected to the Northern Continental Assembly, he had a framed parchment hung on the wall of his office directly across from his massive mahogany desk, where he would see it while he worked. He told us the quote from Edmund Burke was a reminder. It said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Or as I like to say, when it comes to standing for the right and against the wrong, nobody gets a pass.
I’ve never admitted it to a living soul, but that quote is one of the reasons I became a crime reporter. I wasn’t going to turn my back on that guiding principle at this late date, simply because the evil in question was armed and dangerous and knew my name.
Jack Eagan wanted me to drop out of sight, and I would. For a while. During the next couple months I would give myself a chance to heal and get back in shape physically. I would regroup psychologically. But while I was at it, I would dig deeper for information I could use against Hell’s Boatmen and come up with a strategy. When the time was right, I would warn my family, so they could take steps to protect themselves.
Then I would come out swinging.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish